Somewhere in the archives, under the “Who are You” byline, is a comment by a Man United fan. It’s to the effect that American investment does not end well. I can think of three times when he may have been proved right: one being his own club, where they have moved from being debt-free to owing £300 million since 2005, and the second being Liverpool, where legal action forced the sale of the club. The third case is, of course Sunderland, where Ellis Short managed a decline that exceeded all expectations, but did enough to ensure the survival of the club when he finally left.
Yet Man United are still one of, if not the, richest and most successful club(s) in the world and Liverpool are champions of Europe, and both are still owned by Americans. So should Sunderland get back into bed with another American billionaire? Here’s what Pete Sixsmith thinks:
Monsieur Salut writes: no one at ESPN will mind, I am sure, if I repeat an example of my own work for them to mark the anniversary of the Munich air crash that inflicted such terrible losses on Manchester United’s Busby Babes, and the journalistic talent of their city, 60 years ago today. This is how I remembered it in a piece published before a SAFC-Man Utd match five years ago. There will be small changes to make it more relevant to our supporters or update the text, which necessarily applied to the game I was previewing for ESPN. Sunderland were still in the Premier League and the article as it originally appeared would therefore seem a little outdated …
Nathalie Randall is Monsieur Salut’s younger daughter. She plays football better than he ever did and tries to make up for supporting Liverpool by liking Sunderland, too. Tonight, she watched Manchester United restore a little joy to a great but grieving city …
We all know Monsieur Salut’s football-playing younger daughter Nathalie is not a Sunderland fan. OK, she quite likes us, maybe we’re her second team. She’s been dragged to see us a few times in her life. But her allegiance is Liverpool mainly because as a kid, she fancied John Barnes. So, what now for Jordan Pickford? We’ve all seen the crazy prices – crazily low as well as high – but what would you be happy to pay for him if your club was not Sunderland? ….
Nathalie Randall, daughter of Monsieur Salut, rues the collapsing act of the team she disloyally supports, Liverpool, predicts an Arsenal place after all in the top four and says Hull are going down with Boro and us …
There will be no “little” team winning the Premier League this year.
Normality seems to have been restored with Chelsea more or less certain to win the title once more (hands up anyone who actually likes them though!).
Arsenal have had their usual flirtation with the top four, and it remains to be seen if they manage to scrape into a Champions League place, as they always seem to do.
The future of Arsene Wenger is yet to be revealed as well as those of players such as Ozil and Sanchez.
Liverpool had their usual great start to the season, lauded as potential champions before going on a dismal run which may yet land them outside the top four, with points dropped against lesser teams (even including Sunderland in that 2-2 draw in January).
Man City are finishing strongly but they will be disappointed that they weren’t able to make a challenge for the title.
Man Utd have been disappointing in the league but are flying high in the Europa League so could yet qualify for the Champions League by winning that.
Tottenham, as last year, got themselves in great position but seem to be pipped at the post for the second year running.
The usual mid-table teams have cemented their places there again, the likes of Everton, West Brom and Southampton.
Leicester caused uproar when they sacked Claudio Ranieri after he had guided them to an unprecedented Premier League title the previous season but have recovered [egg on Monsieur Salut’s face, maybe, for suggesting the dismissal was an example of corporate obscenity]
Sam Allardyce looks to have performed his miracle survival act once more with Crystal Palace although they aren’t safe yet [see my ESPN piece showing they are still in danger depending on final results – Ed].
As for relegation, Sunderland could not repeat previous seasons’ escape acts and ensured their drop to the Championship recently after a woeful season. It is not known yet who will join them except that it will be any two of Hull, Swansea or Palace.
So my predictions for the final two weekends are:
* Chelsea to win the title (no big surprise there)
* 2: Tottenham / 3: Man City / 4: Arsenal all qualifying for the Champions League.
Relegated: Hull to fill the final place.
* My dad to give me some pocket money for writing this
Monsieur Salut writes: awful defending cost Sunderland the goals that made the start of each half so disappointing but at long last, effort was matched by an ability to score. Wahbi Khazri added pressure on David Moyes to explain rationally why he has been used so little with his astonishing curler directly for a corner and Fabio Borini grabbed the second equaliser after Victor Anichebe caused problems in the West Ham penalty area. Ndong had early missed a sitter and, of course, even a win would not have been enough, but at least we say plenty of fight and Pete Sixsmith is right in his seven-word verdict in thinking we might well have taken all three points …
Olivia Hutchison made her parachute jump in aid of Bradley Lowery’s fight against cancer on Saturday, her marvellous gesture raising £1,515 – just over three times the target she originally set.
Poor old Pete Sixsmith can barely remember what it is like to write about an encouraging losing performance by Sunderland, let alone any kind of winning one. With a little help from Craig Pawson, Manchester United strolled to victory. And Sixer saw nothing, beyond Jordan Pickford’s accomplished goalkeeping and some sparks of effort and drive from Ndong and Cattermole, to persuade him we will even reach 25 points …
Another match, another dismal defeat with no goals, no excitement and no hope for the future. Throw in an awful decision by a referee who appeared to favour the visitors throughout the game and it is well nigh impossible to drag any positives out of this.
John McCormick writes: I wasn’t there and I missed the first 40 minutes on TV so I’m not the best person to offer a comment. That said, I think we played without heart, and I suspect the sending off made little difference; Man Utd looked like they took their foot off the pedal after the first goal and could have stepped up the pace at any time. David Moyes says much the same, only in a different way:
Monsieur Salut writes: No referee, however bad, makes as many mistakes as those routinely committed by footballers. But Craig Pawson’s dismissal of Seb Larsson seemed an atrocious call and one he must have known would end the game as a contest. It did. And we lost as maybe we would have done anyway. Pete Sixsmith gets it right in his seven-word verdict and will be back with more …